A Ballet in Five Dimensions

The audience mills about at intermission, greeting acquaintances, texting those not present, nibbling on chocolates and waiting for the lights to go down for the next act. Slowly, a murmur seeps through the crowd, and chatter begins to dissipate. On stage, a huge projection screen – its contents faint under the bright house lights – shows a single dancer, wandering forward with a curious gaze. Her surroundings appear to be a theater, and the realization quickly spreads that it’s this very space, now! She’s here, with us! Necks crane, a few fingers point, and sure enough, the black-clad woman is spotted walking up the aisle left of the seats, preceded by a cameraman. She continues, taking a path through the doors and out of view into the lobby, where she is met by a male partner. All eyes return to the screen to watch their vestibule duet as the lights finally dim.

Photo: Candice DeTore, from Pennsylvania Ballet's Facebook page

Deciding What to Watch

With this unorthodox opening, Benjamin Millepied introduces a ballet that continues to pique our media-savvy senses throughout its duration. His world premiere piece for Pennsylvania Ballet, This Part in Darkness, intertwines live video and dance in an exciting way that puts the viewer in an entirely new position. Does our focus belong on the the cameraman (principal dancer Alexander Iziliaev), carefully tiptoeing his way back and forth through the whirling choreography? Or the video he’s capturing, projected 40 feet high in glowing fidelity? And what about the dancers themselves, on stage in front of us, ostensibly the reason we’ve come to this theater, on this date, at this exact time? Continue reading A Ballet in Five Dimensions